Posted on April 3, 2023 at 4:53 PM
UK government launches operations against disinformation campaigns and attempts to interfere with elections
The National Cyber Force (NCF) in the United Kingdom has unveiled operations targeting militants and state-backed disinformation campaigns. The agency is also looking into attempts to interfere with the elections. The agency revealed the operations in a statement issued on Tuesday.
UK government launches operations against state-sponsored hackers
The NCF is a hacking unit that was created in 2020. The agency comprises spies and defense officials from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) spy agency and the British armed forces.
The GCHQ released a rare statement on its operations, saying that attacks had been conducted over the past three years. The director of the GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, commented on this development saying that the world was becoming increasingly volatile and interconnected. As such, countries with responsible cyber powers must compete with threat actors within cyberspace.
The agency did not share any in-depth details about its operations. However, Britain is a leading hacking power, competing with other countries such as Russia, China, Iran, and the United States. However, Britain’s hacking prowess is rarely acknowledged.
In 2018, GCHQ conducted several hacking attacks targeting ISIS. Since this agency was created, its operations have remained secretive. The UK has shared minimal information about the activities of this group.
Since the agency started its operations, the NCF has deployed offensive cyber capabilities to protect overseas military bases. The headquarters further said that the operations were aimed at disrupting terrorist groups.
The hackers employed by the British government have come across state disinformation campaigns. They have worked to lower the threat posed by external interference in the elections held in democratic countries.
The statement issued by the agency did not disclose the nature of the disinformation campaign that the threat actors detected. However, British hackers were actively working on countering these campaigns.
The company further said that countries like Iran and Russia routinely conducted cyber-attacks of varying natures for disinformation campaigns. According to the GCHQ, the operations conducted by the NCF were covert. As such, the agency did not disclose the details of the individual operations done by the agency.
The agency also noted that the objective behind such hacking campaigns was so that the targets might not detect that they have been compromised because of the hacking attacks. It also added that the ambiguity and secretive nature of these campaigns posed a major threat.
UK government sets up fake DDoS sites
The revelations made by the spy agency come after the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) revealed that it had set up several fake distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) for hire websites to uncover hackers that used these platforms to conduct DDoS campaigns against organizations.
DDoS-for-hire services are increasingly popular, and they are also known as booters. They are online platforms that enable hackers to generate massive garbage HHTP requests to a website or an online service. In exchange, the people behind these platforms receive money from hackers.
These services are illegal, and they are usually purchased by people who want to take a site offline and disrupt an organization’s normal operations. Hackers usually launch such campaigns for multiple reasons, such as revenge, extortion, espionage, and political reasons.
However, launching DDoS attacks can be costly for threat actors. Moreover, launching these campaigns also requires knowledge and experience. Therefore, hackers without experience who want to bypass the costs turn to DDoS-for-hire sites to launch their campaigns.
The NCA has now set up multiple fake sites to lure cybercriminals who want to make websites and online services offline through malicious campaigns. A statement by the NCA said that thousands of people had already accessed its fake sites. These sites had been set up in a manner that appeared genuine.
However, instead of these sites conducting DDoS campaigns, they collected the information of the people who accessed them. After the NCA infiltrated the cybercrime market and launched a series of attacks, it gathered the details of those who wished to purchase illegal services.
The NCA published a statement on one of its fake sites revealing the operation. The agency warned that law enforcement authorities had set up multiple booter sites that were being used to collect information on cybercriminals. The splash page on one of the fake sites informed cybercriminals who had used the site that their data had been collected and law enforcement authorities would contact them.